This Major Research Instrumentation grant supports the acquisition of an Applied Biosystems 3500 Genetic Analyzer to support research and undergraduate education at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), a Hispanic serving institution in South Texas. The acquisition of a genetic analyzer will enable the PI and students to collect sequence data and score a variety of molecular markers, which will facilitate the construction of phylogenies, determine the genetic structure of populations and provide a greater understanding of the neuroendocrine and transcriptional mechanisms underlying complex social behaviors. In addition to the PI's research program, the requested equipment will advance the projects of numerous faculty, both at TAMIU and surrounding colleges and universities. These faculty represent a great diversity of research disciplines, including: genetics, microbiology, soil science, environmental limnology, ecology, plant biology, and bioinformatics. Situated on the border in South Texas, TAMIU serves a predominately Hispanic community; a group historically underrepresented in science and math professions. Increasing the participation of these students in cutting edge original research is critical to broadening diversity in the sciences and enhancing the nation?s technological and economic competitiveness. Results from this research will be disseminated through regional and professional conferences, publications in scholarly journals, as well as communicated to the general public in interviews with the media, write-ups in lay publications, and lectures to non-professional societies. The equipment supported by this proposal will provide outstanding educational benefits to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students at TAMIU and the surrounding area, enhancing the current curriculum and fostering the creation new courses in genomics and bioinformatics.
This award allowed Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) to acquired an Applied Biosystem 3500 Genetic Analyzer for the Molecular Genetics Core Facility. TAMIU is a Hispanic serving institution in South Texas, which has experienced an incredible transformation with an enrollment increase in the Biology program of over 30% in the past two years. As new faculty with diverse research interests are hired to meet this increased demand, our need for research infrastructure also continues to grow. The purchased equipment has fostered the continued expansion of research at TAMIU and provided state of the art educational opportunities for our students. The equipment purchased through this award has: 1) provided a greater understanding of the neuroendocrine and transcriptional mechanisms underlying the plasticity of female sexual behavior observed in all vertebrate species, including humans 2) generated robust phylogenetic hypotheses, which will further our understanding of the evolution of a wide range of living organisms 3) provided access to state of the art research methodologies to a large number of students who are historically underrepresented in math and science professions 4) augmented the education experience of several previously existing biology courses and enabled the creation of addition courses in genomics and bioinformatics, 5) fostered intramural and extramural collaborations, and 6) increased TAMIUâ€™s competitiveness for extramural research funding and recruiting talented faculty to meet the continued growth of the department and the university. The research supported by the requested equipment has advanced an exciting and unique avenue for understanding the proximate mechanisms underlying the social decision making process of fundamental evolutionary importance, the selection of a mate by a female. Critical to advancing this project has been the ability to 1) construct robust phylogenetic hypotheses of rapidly evolving cichlid lineages, which often requires diverse data sets constructed from genomic and mtDNA sequence, Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms (AFLP), Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and microsatellite markers, 2) sequencing the genes for numerous hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as their receptors for a diversity of cichlid species in order to design species appropriate primers for quantitative PCR and probes for in situ hybridization. In addition to the PIâ€™s research program, the requested equipment has advanced the projects of numerous other faculty at TAMIU, as well as, providing a new resources to surrounding colleges and universities. Situated on the border in South Texas, Texas A&M International University serves a predominately Hispanic community; a group historically underrepresented in science and math professions. Increasing the participation of these students in cutting edge original research is critical to broadening diversity in the sciences and enhancing the nationâ€™s technological and economic competitiveness. The equipment purchased through this award has provided outstanding educational benefits to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students at TAMIU and the surrounding area. The requested equipment has greatly enhanced the infrastructure for research at TAMIU, advancing numerous research programs.